Despite a months-long lobbying effort, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will not move two federal agencies and 620 jobs to the Quad-Cities.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Tuesday announced in a news release that 67 sites are in the running to be the next home of the USDA Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, but the Quad-Cities is not one of them.
Perdue said in August 2018 that the majority of employees from the two offices would relocate by the end of 2019.
Last October, Quad Cities First — the economic development arm of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce — submitted a proposal asking the USDA to consider moving to the Rock Island Arsenal. The region's largest employer, the Arsenal, has a vacant office building ready for use, officials previously said.
But after the USDA narrowed down the list of 136 proposals, the Quad-Cities did not make the cut.
"We maintain our belief that the Quad-Cities regional proposal to house the two USDA offices in existing office space on the Rock Island Arsenal is an ideal choice to meet their needs," said Liz Murray Tallman, chief economic development officer. "Not only is the space ready for operations that will exceed their move-in timeline with minimal occupancy costs, we are centrally located in the Midwest close to their core constituencies."
Lobbying for the agency's relocation has been a top priority for Quad Cities First. Efforts included hiring a Washington, D.C.-area lobbying firm, the Roosevelt Group, in January. Tallman did not say how much time or money has been spent in the process.
Perdue said the site selection criteria include travel requirements, labor force statistics and compatible work hours.
"USDA will make the best choice for our employees and customers," Perdue said in the release. "Relocation will help ensure that USDA is the most effective, most efficient and most customer-focused agency in the federal government, allowing us to be closer to our stakeholders and move our resources closer to our customers.”
Several Iowa sites are still in the running, including in Ames, Ankeny, Des Moines and Council Bluffs. In Illinois, nine sites are being considered throughout the Chicago metropolitan region.
Tallman said the Chamber is seeking additional information on the criteria used in the decision-making process.
"We hope to continue dialogue with the USDA to invite them to visit the Quad-Cities to see how we could exceed their expectations for relocation of the two USDA offices," she said.
Reporter Bill Lukitsch contributed to this story.